Digital Distribution: Is it Time to Redefine Cinema?

The New York Times offers an interesting perspective regarding how digital technologies have impacted the production, distribution, marketing and exhibition of contemporary movies. The article addresses a compelling focus in terms of how the communal aspect of viewing film is facing a dramatic cultural shift and how filmgoing has become less of a group experience. Have we reached a new milestone that may require us to redefine the term “cinema” — and, if so, what does this mean for the business of filmmaking?

The article cites the fact that theater attendance has declined in the U.S. from 90 million a week in 1948 to approximately 23 million today. Of course, the 1948 audience did not have Blu-ray, on-demand, cable movie channels, streaming services and an array of new technologies that enable today’s “24-hour movie.”

Technological innovation has led to cultural evolution regarding the traditional cinema experience. For many consumers, experiencing a movie is no longer about the anticipation of a release, the social environment created by sitting in a darkened theater with a date or a friend (and a group of strangers), or the “communal laughter, tears, gasps and heckling that become part of our memories.” For many (perhaps most), the experience is now more about clicking a button — and what has become a more personalized, immediate dynamic based on consumption-on-demand that technologies enable.

If the 24-hour movie continues to impact the demands and expectations of the movie-viewing public, will this require us to rethink how we produce, exhibit and market our content?

Horror Film to Premiere via BitTorrent, Paramount to Release the DVD

Producers have scheduled a May 19th premiere for the long-awaited horror movie “The Tunnel.” The film – set in abandoned real-life tunnels under Sydney, Australia – will be released by Paramount Pictures on DVD the same day it makes its debut online for free via BitTorrent.

Distracted Media’s plan from the beginning was to premiere the film online (funding was also raised online under “The 135K Project” with the intent of a worldwide online release). Transmission Films and Paramount Home Entertainment Australia, who partner on film acquisitions, announced they will be backing what they describe as “the film that captured the imaginations of Internet users globally.” This may surprise those who have followed Hollywood studios’ concerns regarding BitTorrent over the years, especially in the recent ongoing AFACT v. iiNet case in Australia.

According to Distracted Media’s Enzo Tedeschi (producer and editor of the film): “From day one we’ve maintained that ‘The Tunnel’ is not supporting or condoning piracy, but instead trying to incorporate a legitimate use of peer-to-peer in our distribution strategy internationally.”

The TorrentFreak post has a trailer of the film. Also, you can invest in the film online by purchasing “frames” for $1 each.

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